From Ace Combat to Zeno Clash – A Critical View of My Steam Backlog

At the time of writing, I have 204 games listed on my Steam account. I’ve got these through bundles, sales, giveaways and generally there are a whole lot which I haven’t played at all. Despite this, I spend the bulk of my time playing Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings 2 and Football Manager. So yeah, I like overcomplex strategy games with dynamic systems for me to screw with. But there’s a whole bunch of games there to form the nucleus of a more interesting project rather than continuing to develop scouting plans for dynastic prospects.

I’ve also been looking for a more creative writing project to sink my teeth into and refresh the skills which have wilted in the face of far too many operations and maintenance manuals at work. So this should also help inform my own sensibilities and maybe even spark ideas for a game development project of my own. Therefore, for the benefit of you and of course for my own self-indulgence, I will be playing and critically analysing all the games in my Steam library from A(ce Combat) to Z(eno Clash). The handy menu on the right will let you navigate through the morass. The current fashion may be to yell in a British accent at YouTube, but I like the written word. Words are nice.


I aim to be the kind of critic who thinks more about the systems, concepts and philosophies underlying a game rather than whether a game has a FOV slider, 60 FPS and really sick guns. I enjoy the ideas posited at places like Rock Paper Shotgun, Three Moves Ahead and Vice Waypoint. Whether I can live up to this when the closest I’ve come to a liberal arts degree is ‘Engineering Planning, Design and Communication 1005’ is for you to judge. Lets lay down some ground rules:

  • Every game presently in my Steam library must be critically responded to, unless it is one of the limited exceptions below. These won’t be strictly scored reviews but could be personal reactions ala New Games Journalism, examinations of particular things a game does well, deep dives into particular systems, how it fits into a particular context, etc
  • Each game will be played for a minimum of 1 hour, unless completion comes first. With this many games to get through, the series will never get anywhere if I try to 100% every one. But at the same time I want to give each game a good chance to prove its worth. However, forcing myself to slog through to the end of a game I hate will increase the chances of this project being abandoned.
  • Where I’ve already played a game, I have the free choice to restart or continue where I left off. In practice it will depend on how long since I last played it.
  • Where I have multiple editions of a game, I’ll play only the more recent version (ie Bioshock Remastered, not Bioshock)
  • Complete games only, no prototypes (curse you Double-Fine, for filling up my Steam library with this stuff!)
  • If a game is no longer playable (due to Games For Windows Live, server death, lack of players for online only games, system incompatibility or similar) then I won’t play it.
  • Any new games added to my library after this date must also be played, but I’m free to jump out of order for those.

So here’s the current list:

  1. Ace Combat Assault Horizon Enhanced Edition
  2. Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders
  3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
  4. Arcade Game Series: Dig Dug
  5. Arcade Game Series: Galaga
  6. Arcade Game Series: Pac-Man
  7. Attractio
  8. Audiosurf
  9. Awesomenauts
  10. Axel & Pixel
  11. The Banner Saga
  12. The Basement Collection
  13. Bastion
  14. Beat Hazard
  15. Big Pharma
  16. The Binding of Isaac
  17. BioShock Remastered
  18. BioShock 2 Remastered
  20. Borderlands
  21. Brutal Legend
  22. Bulletstorm
  23. Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
  24. Capsized
  25. Car Mechanic Simulator 2015
  26. Cave Story+
  27. Cities In Motion
  28. Cities: Skylines
  29. Closure
  30. Company of Heroes (New Steam Version)
  31. Costume Quest
  32. Crusader Kings II
  33. Crysis 2 Maximum Edition
  34. Darksiders Warmastered Edition
  35. Dead Space
  36. Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
  37. Defense Grid: The Awakening
  38. Democracy 3
  39. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  40. Devil Daggers
  41. DiRT 2
  42. DiRT 3: Complete Edition
  43. DiRT Showdown
  44. Dragon Age: Origins
  45. Dragon Ball Xenoverse
  46. Duke Nukem Forever
  47. Dungeon Defenders
  48. Dungeonland
  49. Dungeons 2
  50. Dungeons of Dredmor
  51. Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
  52. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  53. Elegy For A Dead World
  54. Else Heart.Break()
  55. Empire: Total War
  56. Endless Legend
  57. Endless Space
  58. English Country Tune
  59. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition
  60. Europa Universalis III
  61. Europa Universalis IV
  62. Evoland 2
  63. Faerie Solitaire
  64. Far Cry 3
  65. Final Fantasy VII
  66. Football Manager 2012
  67. Football Manager 2014
  68. Football Manager 2016
  69. Freedom Force
  70. Freedom Force vs. the 3rd Reich
  71. Frozen Synapse
  72. FTL: Faster Than Light
  73. Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition
  74. Game Dev Tycoon
  75. GRID Autosport
  76. Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes
  77. Grotesque Tactics 2 – Dungeons and Donuts
  78. Hack ‘n’ Slash
  79. Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead
  80. Hotline Miami
  81. Indie Game: The Movie
  82. Intrusion 2
  83. Invisible, Inc.
  84. Jamestown
  85. Just Cause 2
  86. Kerbal Space Program
  87. Kings Bounty: Armored Princess
  88. L.A. Noire
  89. The Last Remnant
  90. Legend of Grimrock
  91. Leviathan: Warships
  92. LIMBO
  93. Little Inferno
  94. Mafia
  95. Mafia II
  96. Magicka
  97. Mass Effect 2
  98. Medal of Honor
  99. Medieval II: Total War
  100. Metro 2033
  101. Mirror’s Edge
  102. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
  103. Monkey Island 2: Special Edition
  104. Mount & Blade: Warband
  105. Napoleon: Total War
  106. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst
  107. NBA 2K10
  108. NBA 2K11
  109. NEO Scavenger
  110. Offspring Fling!
  111. Oil Rush
  112. OlliOlli
  113. Orcs Must Die
  114. Out of the Park Baseball 16
  115. Out of the Park Baseball 17
  116. Overlord II
  117. Pac-Man 256
  118. Papers, Please
  119. Pillars of Eternity
  120. The Polynomial
  121. Portal
  122. Portal 2
  123. Prison Architect
  124. Pro Cycling Manager 2012
  125. Project CARS
  126. Proteus
  127. Psychonauts
  128. Punch Club
  129. Puzzle Quest
  130. Qvadriga
  131. Rayman Legends
  132. Rayman Origins
  133. Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale
  134. Red Faction: Armageddon
  135. Revenge of the Titans
  136. Rhythm Zone
  137. Road to Balhalla
  138. Robocraft
  139. RollerCoaster Tycoon: Deluxe
  140. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack
  141. Rome: Total War – Alexander
  142. Runestone Keeper
  143. Rust
  144. Saints Row: The Third
  145. Sanctum
  146. The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition
  147. SEGA Mega Drive & Genesis Classics – Shining Force
  148. Serious Sam 3: BFE
  149. Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
  150. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter
  151. Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition
  152. Shank 2
  153. The Showdown Effect
  154. Sid Meier’s Civilization III: Complete
  155. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword
  156. Sid Meier’s Civilization IV: Colonization
  157. Sid Meier’s Civilization V
  158. Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
  159. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
  160. SimCity 4 Deluxe
  161. Snapshot
  162. Sniper Elite V2
  163. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  164. Sonic CD
  165. Sonic Generations
  166. Sportsfriends
  167. Stacking
  168. Stellaris
  169. Stronghold Crusader 2
  170. Super Meat Boy
  171. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  172. Symphony
  173. The Talos Principle
  174. Terraria
  175. This War of Mine
  176. Thomas Was Alone
  177. Tiny and Big: Grandpa’s Leftovers
  178. Titan Quest Anniversary Edition
  179. Train Simulator
  180. Tribes: Ascend
  181. Tropico 3 – Steam Special Edition
  182. Tropico 4
  183. Unity of Command
  184. Valkyria Chronicles
  185. Vertiginous Golf
  186. Victor Vran
  187. VVVVVVV
  188. The Walking Dead
  189. War of the Roses
  190. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War
  191. Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade
  192. Warlock – Master of the Arcane
  193. World of Goo
  194. WRC 4 FIA World Rally Championship
  195. X-COM: UFO Defense
  196. X-COM: Terror from the Deep
  197. X-COM: Apocalypse
  198. X-COM: Interceptor
  199. X-COM: Enforcer
  200. X-Plane 10
  201. X3: Terran Conflict
  202. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  203. XCOM 2
  204. Zeno Clash

So there’s a nice sized helping of strategy games as well as a bunch of other genres to help break things up and some just plain oddities (Car Mechanic Simulator 2015, anyone?). This is clearly a fairly monumental project (and my record with completion of monumental projects is not great), but hopefully one which will prove enlightening and help to uncover some diamonds in the rough.


For the tech heads, I’m running an Intel Core i5-2500K, nVidia GTX 960, Windows 10, 16GB of RAM and I have an Xbox 360 controller for gamepad-suited titles. So while I might not be able to run the most recent games on absolute maximum settings, everything should run fine.


This page will not be updated on any particular schedule, because I’ll need to fit this around my other commitments and some games take much longer than others. I also don’t have any social media for this, so if you want to follow the series then I dunno, bookmark the page and check it occasionally? In the unlikely event that it develops an audience I’ll change that, but at this stage this is a personal, self-indulgent project that I’m only really publishing because I can.


So without further ado, ladies, gentlemen and anybody else, may I present to you the first cab off the rank:

Ace Combat Assault Horizon